So, what's this thing called meditation all about? Well, it's really quite simple and easy to do. Here are some helpful tips that will explain what it actually is and how you can begin to do it yourself!
By Dr. Jeff St. John
Most of us turn to meditation when we are looking for “a way out” of a painful or stressful situation. We are surprised to find out that meditation shows us that “sometimes the only way out is in.” Meditation reveals to us that we already have all the answers inside of us, we just have to be still long enough to find them. Meditation is the relaxed state of looking inward to find true peace and lasting happiness.
Before you begin your meditation, plan a peaceful setting for yourself. Some people find it relaxing to turn off or dim the lights, light candles, and even burn incense. Others prefer daylight and soft instrumental music. Still others simply prefer silence in any setting. Whatever your preference, be sure to create it for yourself before you begin your meditation. It's also a good idea to turn off your phone and beeper to avoid any distractions or interruptions.
There are a number of different postures you can choose for meditation. A popular posture is to sit on the floor cross-legged (with your knees bent and your ankles crossed). Your hands can be placed on both knees with your palms faced upward or they can be placed in a prayerlike position over the center of your chest. If you choose the prayerlike position, you will begin to move both hands together in a continued circular motion out and away from your body. Your hands will make a circle that begins above your head and end in the middle of your chest. If neither of these positions interests you, you may also choose to sit in a comfortable chair or lie flat on your back.
Meditation is a process of looking inward. What you find there cannot be seen with your eyes; it must be experienced through your mind's eye and felt by your heart. So, all meditation requires you to do is close your eyes. This will help you to look inward instead of looking outward for your answers.
You'll be doing a lot of breathing during your meditation. So it would be helpful to practice this before you begin to meditate. You can practice in any place at any time of the day. Begin slowly breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Count to three as you inhale and as you exhale. Allow your stomach to fully expand as you inhale and retract as you exhale. You may want to place your hands on your belly to notice how this is happening. It will help give you better breath control.
You can meditate any time! Some people like to meditate at the beginning of the day so they feel calm, cool, collected, and ready to start the day off with a clear head. Others like to take a break during the day to meditate before they return to their busy work schedules. Still others prefer to wait until the end of the day. They find that meditating at the end of the day is a great way to relax and unwind.
We all meditate for different reasons. For some it is a way to reduce stress, for some it is a way to become clearer or less confused, and for others it is a way to get closer to their Higher Power. Before you meditate, ask yourself, “Why do I want to meditate? What's my motivation?” Then remember why you are choosing to meditate any time you are tempted to quit or become distracted from your desire to meditate.
From a comfortable posture in your peaceful place, close your eyes and begin inhaling and exhaling. Be sure your breathing is slow, deep, and deliberate. Allow your mind to take you into a deep state of meditation. Many thoughts and feelings should come and go as you do this.
Allow your mind to take you wherever it wants to go. Some people are disturbed by the many thoughts that seem to appear and disappear when they meditate. They believe that they should be experiencing something other than what they are experiencing. Rest assured that whatever you think about or see in your mind's eye is actually what you should be experiencing.
Your thoughts and feelings during your meditation will take you to the exact place that you need to be during your meditation. If you fight these thoughts and feelings, they will most likely intensify. So, don't fight it. Keep in mind that what you resist will persist. Then, go with the flow!
Some people like to visualize while they meditate. It is most common for people to visualize a bright white light that they inhale into their system. They usually visualize this light filling their bodies or the part of their body that carries stress or some other kind of uncomfortable emotion as they breathe in. As they breathe out, they visualize themselves exhaling all of the stressful or unpleasant emotions. This is a very successful technique for reducing stress and finding relief from uncomfortable feelings for many people.
Others like to visualize a peaceful place in their mind that they can retreat to any time life gets too stressful. Some think of a tropical island while others think about being in the arms of a loved one. Wherever your safe place is (real or imagined) bring it to mind and allow yourself to be there. Close your eyes and take in all the sights, sounds, and smells that this place has to offer you. Go there in your mind any time you need to relax or take a break.
Many people complain that it is difficult for them to stay focused when they meditate. This is a common problem that is easily remedied. When you are meditating and you find that your mind starts to wander, just let it wander and focus on your breathing. Pay attention to breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth for three seconds each breath. Tell yourself that “with every breath I breathe I am falling deeper and deeper into meditation” or “with every breath I take I am becoming more and more relaxed.” Listen to the oxygen going in and out of your body. This is a great way of staying focused when your mind starts to wander!
After you meditate you will probably feel relaxed—very, very relaxed. Some people notice that it affects their reaction time to things going on around them. They feel so relaxed that they do not move or respond as quickly as they normally would to people and things they see or hear. For example, if you were to meditate and then immediately get in your car to go to work, and a cat ran right out in front of your car, you might not step on the brake so quickly since you are feeling so relaxed. Your response time might be much slower than usual. So, for your safety and the safety of others, do not drive immediately after meditating.
The same is true for operating heavy equipment. To avoid possible injury to yourself or others, it is best not to work out or use heavy equipment or machinery immediately after you have meditated. Heavy equipment might be better managed when you are in a less relaxed state. If you want to work out, try some stretching and bending exercises instead of using free-weights.
Give yourself ten minutes after you come out of meditation to fully wake up. Get up and walk around, talk to someone if possible, or get a cold glass of water. All of these are excellent ways to gain full consciousness and guarantee alertness.
Once you've finished your meditation, it's a good idea to deal with some of the major issues in your life that have been causing you stress. Maybe it's an unpleasant work situation or there's someone you have a personal relationship with that you need to confront. Whatever the stressful situation is that you need to confront, deal with it when you are calm, cool, and collected, after a nice long meditation. You will find that it is much easier to do after meditation than when you are stressed and prone to making rash decisions.
If you don't have any major stresses in your life right now, then congratulations! After your meditation, plan to deal with the minor things in your life that bother you. For instance, if your neighbor keeps taking your newspaper or if your son isn't taking out the trash like he's supposed to be doing, a good time for a conversation with them would be right after a relaxing meditation. Your words will be nicer and your attitude more pleasant.
You and your friends will be amazed at what a difference meditation can make in your lives. If you enjoyed this supernatural experience, be sure to share this information with someone you know. You might even consider meditating together!